Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Ryanair - Faro - Madrid Route

It has now been confirmed via several sources that Ryanair suspended their service between Faro and Madrid last week. Once again Faro has no direct air links to a growing and important tourist market.

The company cited the fact that after only 10 months of operation they only were achieving a 48,6% load factor on the route. However, the reports quoting this statistic fail to point out that Ryanair, while initially operating 7 flights a week on the route, dropped the frequency to 4 a week in early summer. It would be interesting to know if the percentage figure quoted reflected this or was calculated on 7 flights a week.

It would be also interesting to know whether they considered dropping frequencies to 3 times a week - loadings then presumably would increase accordingly to in the order of 60%. Ryanair do operate thrice weekly services on other routes in Europe - Why not Faro?

After the debacle of the cancellation of their Girona - Faro route after 2 months of operation, one has to question Ryanair's strategy for entering the Spain to Faro market. They were receiving incentives from the authorities to operate a route which in the case of Madrid - Faro would have become profitable over time. I question their complete lack of apppropriate local marketing (e.g. billboards) in the Algarve and Coast da Luz (Huelva) areas. Many locals, especially from the expat communities in the Algarve, were simply unaware of the route because they don't read the local press. it appears that, as with its policies elswhere in Europe, unless it can make a quick buck, they will get out of a route as soon as they can with minimal public announcements etc. This also happened recently on their Dublin to Porto Service. As a result passengers who h ad already booked their flights were offered refunds or alternatives seats on flights from Faro (600km away.)

Let's hope the Algarve tourism authorities (RTA) can attract other airlines to routes such as Faro - Madrid, as well as Faro - Paris and Faro Milan.

However, hopefully, not Ryanair!

While I understand that low-cost airlines have to depend on turnover, they should not expect to receive incentives for a route and then drop it when they want to. They should also do proper market research beforehand to try ensure viability of a route or accept that it takes time for traffic to develop and "stay the course."